Cayman talent off-Broadway

Caymanian actress Grace Gealey,
whose website describes her as a small-island girl with big dreams, makes her
New York debut in the world premier of the off-Broadway production of Venus
Flytrap: A Femme Noir Mystery on 4 November.

The 26-year-old actress welcomes
the opportunity to stretch herself artistically by portraying several
characters in a play set in 1940s Harlem.

The play, written by the Edgar-nominated
director Anthony Dodge, explores how much – and how little – things have
changed when it comes to embracing those classed as different, and
unflinchingly explores topics such as self-identity, religion and sexual orientation
in a way that’s designed to have audiences questioning their belief systems and
how they treat others they consider to be different.

“I am lucky to be playing multiple
characters that have different outlooks on what the world is and should be,”
said the actress. “The common link that unites all of the play’s characters is
the desire to live their lives freely and openly. It is clear that they have
accepted society for what it is, but will society return the favour?”


Bodden Town roots

Gealey, whose grandparents were the
well-known Bodden Towners Harry and Theoline McCoy, is the daughter of their
eldest child, Cheryl McCoy-Gealey.

Bitten by the acting bug at age
five, the actress said she was “always involved and immersed in some form of
the arts, whether it was dancing, singing or acting.” 

She performed annually at the
National Cultural Foundation’s Festival of the Arts, beginning while she
attended Bodden Town Primary (now named after her late grandmother) and
continued throughout her time at George Hicks and John Gray high schools.

Key role models and influences
during that time were the painter and drama teacher Nasaria Suckoo-Cholette and
the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s Henry Muttoo.


Making her mark

Gealey’s theatre arts degree from
the University of South Florida and her master’s in acting from the University
of California solidified her decision to be an actor. As a jobbing actress —
attending classes, auditions, call backs, rehearsals and performances in
California — she only recently moved to New York to try for “meatier and more
challenging roles.”

Her roles in Venus Flytrap
certainly seem to fit the bill.

She is working alongside A-grade
talent like Xanthe Elbrick, the Tony-nominated British actress, who plays
gumshoe Butch Diamond, and Marcia Milgrom Dodge, the Tony-nominated,
multi-award winning director.

Off stage, she enjoys frequenting
some of the Big Apple’s many jazz lounges and catching up with family on email
and Skype.

Despite putting in 12-hour days,
Gealey has warmed to life in the metropolis, describing the city as “an
excellent playground of exploration and opportunity.

“I love the freedom and diversity
in New York; theatre and the arts live fantastically here.”

Aside from her on-stage career,
Gealey auditions for short films and commercials, thanks to her agents.

When the actress makes her annual
visit to Cayman to visit her mother and visit with family, she  looks forward to home-grown favourites like
steamed fish, crab, oxtail and Cayman stew beef.

“My sister and I always have to get
a Tastee patty and Kola Champagne too,” showing that you can take the girl off
the island, but you can’t always take the island out of the girl.


Actress Grace Gealey appears in
Venus Flytrap from 4 to 14 November at the Workshop Theater, 312 West 36th
Street. For details and ticket information, call in the US: 1-212-460-5475


Grace Gealey sings as Anita in West Side Story.
Photo: Submitted

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